By a Biometrica staffer
In the first seven months of 2021, there were 44 law enforcement officers (LEOs) who were feloniously killed. That number is just two away from the 46 officers who were reported as being killed feloniously in all of 2020. To be sure, 2020 was a relatively quieter period for all aspects of life given the Covid-19 pandemic and the related shutdowns, perhaps skewing the comparison a bit. Still, the number of officers feloniously killed so far this year is sharply higher than it has been over the past five years during the first seven months of the year.
Last year, 31 officers were reported to have been feloniously killed through July, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) latest Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) data. This year’s number, at 44, is also more than 2019’s (27) and 2017’s (25). What’s important to note is that it is also sharply higher than the number for the first seven months of 2018 (38), which was the year with the highest total number of officers feloniously killed in the past five years.
Of the 44 felonious deaths thus far in 2021, 36 have been firearm-related, with the remainder involving the use of vehicles (5), personal weapons (2), and a knife/cutting instrument (1). In comparison, of the 46 total felonious deaths of officers reported in 2020, 41 were firearm-related, four were vehicle-related, and one involved personal weapons. For this year, i.e., as of July 2021, only 36.3% of those feloniously killed were reported to have been wearing body armor at the time of the firearm-involved incident that led to their deaths. That’s sharply down from 61.2% in 2020.
Tragically, accidental LEO deaths have also increased 20% when one compares the first seven months of this year to 2020, at 36 and 30 respectively. The accidental deaths this year were the result of motor vehicle crashes (19), pedestrian officers struck by vehicles (15), and drowning (2). Of the 15 deaths caused by pedestrian officers struck by vehicles, six occurred specifically while assisting/investigating vehicle crashes.
So far in 2021, 54 LEOs have also died in the line of duty from illnesses related to the Covid-19 pandemic. In total, there were 63 deaths of LEOs from illnesses during the first seven months of this year. Among the officers who died from illnesses was one officer who passed away from conditions associated with responding to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
The southern region continued to have the most law enforcement deaths with 41 in total (of which 24 were felonious and 17 accidental).
Of the felonious deaths in 2021, the highest number occurred during the month of April, which saw the deaths of eight officers. In comparison, the highest number of LEOs feloniously killed in a single month in 2020 was in March (7). April 2021 proved to be a tragic month overall for LEO deaths, with the highest number of accidental deaths in a single month for the year, so far, also taking place then.
“We continue to witness horrific acts of violence being committed against those who we need to protect our communities. These senseless acts have a chilling effect across the law enforcement community, and we wait for the day where line of duty deaths reach an all-time low,” ABC News reported Laura Cooper, the executive director of the Major City Chiefs Association (MCCA) that represents police chiefs from across the country, as saying.